For those curious about the secret behind Ryan junior Drew Sanders’ freakish size and athleticism, it actually boils down to two things: a workout regimen that started when he was very young and his mother’s home cooking.
Sanders, an Oklahoma commit who stands at a menacing 6-5 and 220 pounds, said he was just 6 years old when his father introduced him to the cross training home workout program P90X. The idea was to prepare young Drew for the demands of what was quickly becoming a grueling schedule of wrestling and football.
“Wrestling was a year-round thing; I had to make sure my body was good so I could compete,” Sanders said with a laugh.
Sanders has since moved on to a steady routine of weight lifting and other training programs to get bigger, faster and stronger. He also stopped wrestling and is focused 100 percent on football. But one thing that never changed was his mother’s cooking, a strategic process that to this day involves prepping all of Drew’s meals for the week on Sundays.
Every nutritional detail is accounted for, including two breakfasts — one before his morning workout and one after.
“The kid has never had a school lunch,” Drew’s father, Mitch, said. “It’s a lot of hard work on her part. His mom is a saint.”
With such a dedicated approach to training and an all-hands-on-deck mindset at home, it’s not shocking to see how easy it has been for Drew to make his presence felt on the football field. After one-year stints at Lake Dallas and Colleyville Heritage, he moved to Ryan last offseason and became a key cog on both sides of the ball as a linebacker, wildcat quarterback and wide receiver.
Because of his impact on Ryan’s third straight run to the Class 5A Division I semifinals, Sanders was the clear choice as MVP of the Denton Record-Chronicle All-Area Football Team.
It is the fourth consecutive year a Ryan player has been named MVP.
“It’s an honor,” Sanders said. “I couldn’t be more excited.”
Sanders shared District 4-5A (Division I) MVP honors with teammate Billy Bowman Jr., another big-play machine who was in the conversation for DRC MVP but ultimately named utility player of the year.
Defensively, Sanders finished with 103 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six sacks, a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and three interceptions. Sanders returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns as Ryan finished with 16 defensive scores.
On offense, he accounted for 20 touchdowns (13 rushing, four passing and three receiving). Three of those scores came in the state semifinal loss to Highland Park.
Sanders said there are plenty of areas where he can improve.
“I definitely need to get bigger, faster and stronger,” he said. “And you can always improve on your football IQ.”
The good news for Ryan is that Sanders has another year of high school left before heading off to play for the Sooners. He showed he was durable this season and only missed one game due to injury. This will also be his first chance to spend an entire offseason with the same team.
Sanders was a freshman at Lake Dallas before transferring to Heritage, where he played as a sophomore.
“Just being around these guys for this past season, I already feel like I’ve been part of the team for a lot longer,” Sanders said. “It’s going to be great getting back out there this offseason and working with my brothers to hopefully win it all.”